News Briefs: Volunteers in Medicine Dips Into Reserves | Forest Service Roads & Travel | Protect the Bats | Very Small Businesses Examined | Help Sought for Vieques, Puerto Rico | Toxic Utility Poles | Activist Alert | War Dead | Lighten Up |
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
VOLUNTEERS IN MEDICINE DIPS INTO RESERVES
During the current recession some of the hardest hit people have been the working poor, presenting a challenge to organizations, such as Volunteers in Medicine (VIM), which serves this segment of the population.
VIM in Springfield is one of about 50 free clinics across the nation that provide free medical and mental health services to those who qualify under their mission. To be eligible for VIMs services a patients income for the last three months must be between 85 and 200 percent of the federal poverty level. This works out to around $900 per month for an individual. Those who are eligible for the Oregon Health Plan, Medicare, Medicaid, or any other insurance are not eligible for services at the VIM clinic.
The VIM clinic provides a range of health care services including mental health and primary care in an integrated model. This allows for more efficiency and better communication between primary care physicians and mental health care professionals. Two specialty clinics are on site, a diabetes management and education clinic, as well as a womens health care clinic.VIM runs an in-house dispensary that provides patients with medication at no cost. The clinic also can refer patients to local specialists. The VIM clinic is one of the only clinics in town to offer its services, including mental health care, in Spanish.
The current recession has made it difficult for VIM to continue to fill its mission. "When the clinic opened 10 years ago, there were an estimated 23,000 uninsured people in Lane County,” says Jackie Mikalonis, VIMs executive director. "Now that number is approximately 73,000.” She noted that during VIMs 10 years in operation, about 80 percent of patients came from working families.
VIM is a 100 percent community supported program.Mikalonis noted, "All services are free, there are no revenues from fees, so each year VIM has to raise more than $1.5 million to deliver free medical services to the community.The recession has resulted in an increased demand for services; and at the same time, revenues are not keeping pace with expenditures." VIM has dipped into its reserves, for rather than cut services, she added.
VIMs clinic is located at 2260 Marcola Road, Springfield. It can be reached at 685-1800.Donations can be made on the web at www.vim-clinic.org and those interested in volunteering can email firstname.lastname@example.org ã Philip Shackleton
FOREST SERVICE ROADS & TRAVEL
There are enough roads in the U.S. National Forests ã more than 375,000 miles ã to circle the equator 15 times. According to panelists on the "Forest Service Travel Management” panel at the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference March 3, these roads are severely underfunded, are a primary cause of aquatic degradation, habitat fragmentation, erosion and unmanaged recreation.
The "travel management rule” directs all national forests to identify, through a science-based analysis, an ecologically and fiscally sustainable minimum road system by 2015. "We dont need new laws; we want the Forest Service to correctly implement the rules,” said panelist Cyndi Tuell from the Center for Biological Diversity. CBD campaigned for the protection of the Oregon sand dunes from off-road vehicles a few years ago.
According to the panel, only about 20 percent of the Forest Service roads are maintained to standard each year. Additionally, harm from off-road vehicles such as, dirt bikes, motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles, are causing noise, water and soil pollution, disrupting the flora and fauna, water systems and enjoyment of the land by quiet users.
"I cant monitor all the roads out there, thats why I want the Forest Service to help me,” Tuell said. She said she would like everyone using public land to help her as well by documenting evidence of road erosion. "It would be a huge help to have people regularly monitoring areas the same time of year, year after year, documenting with photos and GPS if possible,” Tuell said. She recommends reporting information directly to the Forest Service to let them know about problematic areas.
Due to a shortage of maintenance money and issues with runoff from roads affecting bull trout and salmon, the Willamette National Forest is closing 132 miles of roads near Oakridge this spring.
For more information visit, www.biologicaldiversity.org ã Heather Cyrus
PROTECT THE BATS
"Why save bats?” asked James Eggers, director of education for Bat Conservation International during a panel at the recent Public Interest Environmental Law Conference. According to Eggers, bats provide utilitarian values, including pest management, pollination, seed-dispersal and guano (aka bat poo) but we are in danger of losing bat benefits.
Panelists at "White-Nose Syndrome and the Dying of Bats” discussed a newly emergent disease found in bats called white-nose syndrome (WNS), which is causing a mass die-off of bats due to a white fungus on their noses and other parts of their body.
Eggers said bats munch on pesky mosquitoes, pollinate your favorite flowers and provide prized fertilizer, and the U.S. needs to realize the values bats provide and put them on the federal endangered species list
WNS, a fast spreading disease, was first seen in Albany, N.Y., in 2006. Since its discovery, it has been documented in 16 states and two Canadian provinces and has killed over one million bats in the last five years.
The main concern for the panelists, including Pat Ormsbee, bat specialist for the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management; and Mollie Matteson, conservation advocate for the Center for Biological Diversity, was the spread of WNS to western states.
Panelists called for prevention efforts from the government and the public to help avoid the advancement of this deadly disease.
Since bats are not the only vector with which WNS can be spread, panelists asked that hikers, climbers and cave explorers stay away from bat roosts, decontaminate equipment (shoes, clothing, and climbing gear) and not to bring equipment used in other states back to the Pacific Northwest.
"We need to do everything we can to try to protect bats, even though there are still a lot of things that we dont know,” said Matteson.
For more information on WNS and bats, visit www.batcon.org. ®®® Chelsea Fryhoff
VERY SMALL BUSINESSES EXAMINED
How do you start a small business with very little resources, particularly in a major recession when traditional banks are holding on to their money? Experts on the topic of micro-enterprise are planning a free event from 4:30 to 5:45 pm Friday, March 25, at the Eugene Public Library.
Valerie Plummer, executive director of the Oregon Microenterprise Network, will provide an overview of micro-lending in the U.S., followed by Dan McGraw, loan fund manager of Oregon MicroEnterprise Network, who will talk about his experience with Mercy Corps and tools for evaluating entrepreneurs and their business plans. Claire Seguin will provide an update about the O.U.R. Credit Union/NEDCO partnership.
Topics for discussion include the benefits of microenterprise as an effective tool for lifting people out of poverty, the factors that influence success, plus the institutions that are available as resources.
Helping organize the event is local peace and social justice activist David Hazen, who can be contacted at email@example.com
HELP SOUGHT FOR VIEQUES, PUERTO RICO
In 1941, the U.S. Navy arrived on Vieques, an island-municipality of Puerto Rico, and gave the 11,000 indigenous people living there 48 hours to vacate and move from their coastal homes to the center of the island. The Navy bought the island for $1.5 million and took over two-thirds of it for a bombing range and testing ground for nearly 60 years.
Although the Navy left Vieques in 2001, according to panelists on "The Occupation of the U.S. Navy in Vieques, Puerto Rico” panel at the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference March 6, the long-term health effects, and environmental and social damages will be felt for decades.
During the military presence, bombs were frequently dropped, both on land and in the sea, damaging the marine wildlife and fishing industry, panelists said. Roads built by the Navy led to erosion and affected the ground water. The panel explained that the fresh water on the island became so polluted that a pipeline was built to bring water from Puerto Rico to Vieques for drinking water.
Children may have been the most adversely affected. There were reports of children finding hand grenades, and low-flying planes forcing schools to constantly close early. When a small child was diagnosed with cancer and developed large tumors on her head, the residents became very concerned about their health. This, coupled with the death of David Sanes Rodr'guez, a local Vieques security guard for the Navy who died from a dropped bomb, prompted the first of many uprisings against the Navys presence.
The Navy has left behind undetonated bombs all over the island. "Rather than use the glass box for detonating the bombs more safely and avoid releasing extra chemicals into the environment, the company in charge of the clean-up says its cheaper to just detonate them,” said panelist Tania Morales who grew up and currently lives in Vieques.
According to CNN reports, the residents of Vieques now have a 75 percent cancer rate. "The local people dont have a health clinic on the island; they have to travel by boat to Puerto Rico for their cancer treatment, which is very hard for these sick and weak people,” Morales said.
The land is still federally owned and is managed by the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Many areas of the island are still off limits to the local people.
The panel asked for assistance from environmental lawyers and others to help the people of Vieques. Because Puerto Rico is a territory of the U.S. the appellate level of courts are in English and no understanding of international law is necessary. For more information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org ã Heather Cyrus and Chelsea Fryhoff
TOXIC UTILITY POLES
Ever notice that black sticky looking goo on utility poles when you put your sign up for the weekend garage sale? According to the panelists on the "Dioxin from Phone Poles: Poison in Your Back Yard” panel at the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference March 6, the last thing you want to do is get a closer look, but a big portion of the West Coasts nasty stuff on them comes from right here in Eugene.
Before the World War I, the steel industry began looking for ways to use its waste products, and it provided the public with pentachlorophenol (penta), a wood preservative. Panelist Patricia Clary, a representative from Californians for Alternatives to Toxics, said penta is so toxic that nothing can live in the wood.
Years later, health issues related to penta began to surface, she said. Because it contains dioxin, a known human carcinogen, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned its production in 1987, except for the use on utility poles. Still used today, penta is dissolved into petroleum and forced into the wood of the poles.
A 1994 EPA report said that there is no safe level of exposure to dioxin, which can cause cancer and severe reproductive and developmental problems.
According to the panelists, there are 140 million utility poles treated in the U.S., the majority treated with penta. Additionally, damaged poles are sold to individuals to use in landscaping and garden use.
Heat draws the penta oil mix to the surface of the pole during hot weather so it can easily slip down the pole into the soil, wash down storm drains, and get into water systems, they said.
"The poles lose up to 50 percent of their oils in the first eight to 10 years into the environment,” said Fredric Evenson from the Ecological Rights Foundation. He explains that mixing dioxin with oil makes it travel very quickly through the soil. Penta has been found in groundwater as far as 90 feet below the surface.
"Each of these poles are like mini Superfund sites all across the country. They are in peoples backyards, school yards, near daycare centers,” Evenson explained.
The panelists said the vast majority of poles they tested in California came from the McFarland Cascade Pole Treating Facility, located near the Eugene airport. Evenson said there is a massive plume of penta surrounding this entire wetland area, with oil floating on the surface of groundwater, which he explained, likely makes its way into the Willamette River.
Fiberglass poles, steel poles, applying citrus oil, and using tree species that dont need to be treated, are all alternatives to penta use. "The real answer is to get away from wood,” said Clary. ã Heather Cyrus
« The next Oregon WAND monthly program will be from 6:30 to 8:15 pm Thursday, March 24, at First United Methodist Church,
1376 Olive St., in Eugene. Guest speaker is Carol Dennis, who directed the Lord Leebrick Theatre production of My Name Is Rachel Corrie. All Oregon WAND events are free and open to the public. See www.wandoregon.org
« The annual SOLV Oregon Spring Beach Cleanup will be from 10 am to 1 pm Saturday, March 26. Visit www.solv.org to register online and view a map of check-in sites, or call SOLV at (503) 844-9571 or (800) 333-SOLV (7658).
« A rally supporting the labeling of genetically modified foods is plans for noon to 3 pm Saturday, March 26, at the Capitol Building in Salem. The rally coincides with the Rally for the Right to Knowin front of the White House in Washington, D.C. Local contact is GMO-Free Eugene at 343-1913.
« Helios Resource Network is throwing a "2011 Spring for Local Party” from 7 to 10 pm Saturday, March 26, at The Jazz Station, 124 W. Broadway, next door to the new Helios office at 120 W. Broadway. Suggested donation is $5 at the door. Hear about some of the local nonprofit groups that receive Helios grants.
« A free public forum by the Opal Network introducing new treatment for the diagnosis of "psychosis” will be from 2 to 4 pm Tuesday, March 29, at the Eugene Public Library Bascom-Tykeson Room. Speaker will be Ron Unger, LCSW. For more information, call 345-9106 or email email@example.com
« A community forum on "The Other Drinking Problem, Soda and Your Health” will be from 6 to 7:45 pm Tuesday, March 29, at the Eugene Public Library. The forum will explore how policies and changes to our environment can support chronic disease prevention, andlegislation that could affect soft drinks cost, consumption, labeling and portion size. Hosted byThe Lane Coalition for Healthy Active Youth (LCHAY). For more information visit www.lchay.org or call 682-4306.
« A town hall meeting and teach-in on "Challenging Corporate Rule” will be at 6 pm Wednesday, March 30, at Harris Hall, 125 E. 8th Ave. downtown. A 10-minute video The Story of Citizens United will be shown, followed by remarks by Stan Taylor of LCC and (tentatively) Michael Dreiling of UO on corporate personhood, corporate power and the Citizens United decision. Local organizers are drafting language and gathering signatures for a Lane County initiative plus a Eugene City Council Resolution. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
« The Many Rivers Group of the Sierra Club is planning a presentation on "Oregons Marine Reserves Process” from 7 to 9 pm Thursday, March 31, at the Eugene Garden Club, 1645 High St. Speaker is Bob Rees of the Our Ocean coalition. Contact Sally Nunn at email@example.com or visit www.ouroregonocean.org
« 1,499 U.S. troops killed* (1,489)
« 10,622 U.S. troops wounded in action (10,543)
« 709 U.S. contractors killed (709)
« $388.2 billion cost of war ($386.2 billion)
« $110.4 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($109.8 million)
« 4,421 U.S. troops killed (4,421)
« 31,938 U.S. troops wounded in action (31,938)
« 185 U.S. military suicides (updates NA)
« 1,521 U.S. contractors killed (1,521)
« 109,359 to 1.2 million civilians killed* (109,230)
« $780.5 billion cost of war ($779.2 billion)
« $221.9 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($221.6 million)
Through March 21, 2011; sources: icasualties.org; defense.gov, U.S. Dept. of Labor
* highest estimate; source: iraqbodycount.org; based on confirmed media reports; other groups calculate Iraqi civilian deaths as high as 655,000 (Lancet survey, 2006) to 1.2 million (Opinion Research Business survey, 2008)
According to Aristotle, the brain is used to cool the blood and not for thinking.Michele Bachmann proves him right. ã Rafael Aldave, Eugene
« We had the good fortune to go to Lynda and Brian Lankers house for a DeFazio fundraiser last November. As many of you know, the walls of their splendid home display Brians photography, Lyndas paintings, and on that autumn evening, brilliant bouquets of fresh flowers enhanced it all. Lynda said the flowers were Brians province. As we reflect on that evening and read local and national tributes after Brian Lankers too-early death, we better understand how his essential humanity and passion for social justice drove much of his truly profound photography.
« Can Civic Stadiums sturdy old-growth structure be saved from the chainsaw and bulldozer? We were pleased to see City Councilor George Brown last week push for more council input into the 4J School Boards decision-making process. This might buy a little time and get the three interested parties talking to each other about a public-private partnership that could benefit just about everyone.
Last time we checked, the Y and Save Civic Stadium (SCS) were not talking to each other after a year of discussions. Dave Perez, executive director of the Y, tells us money and parking were some of the big issues. "In the end,” he says, "the cost of the stadiums capital restoration combined with unsustainable ongoing costs caused our organizations to part ways.” The Y and its architects looked at vertical parking, but it was "cost prohibitive.” So the Ys plans show a big parking lot and tennis courts in the middle of the site, surrounded by apartments, with an impressive new Y on the north side. The Y is also trying to finance a second new facility in north Eugene.
Meanwhile, Ron Crasilneck, SCSs board president, tells us hes frustrated that "the Ys refusal to consider anyone elses needs but their own demonstrates to me a lack of understanding of how to get things done.” Crasilneck says the Y could benefit greatly from a joint proposal, and even get its new building site for free. "I see no reason for us to approach them again when they have shown no signs of willingness to work with anyone else besides an out-of-state housing developer.”
The Y and SCS are no longer competing with each other so much as with the third proposal from Steve Master and Fred Meyer, which is finding favor with the cash-strapped school district. Will this motivate the Y and SCS to get over their past differences, sit down again and collaborate? Can parking across Amazon next to South Eugene High be utilized? Can Master add a commercial element to the mix (other than an ugly big box store) to make the package more viable? Three complex plans would need to merge, but saving a landmark would be a huge draw for community support and fundraising. The district would gain long-term lease income, the property would stay in public ownership as intended in the 1938 deed to 4J, and Civic Stadium would be restored as a venue for soccer and other sports, and as a vibrant community center.
« Good, impassioned discussion on Envision Eugene at City Club last week. Quality of life got a lot of attention, including the need to protect our shrinking agricultural lands from development. It was a bit disturbing to hear brownfields such as railyards and old industrial sites being written off as too expensive to clean up and redevelop. So do we just leave them as toxic eyesores while we pave over prime farmland? With a little visionary leadership, Eugene can do better than that.
« A bill for single-payer "public option” health insurance in Oregon had a public hearing in Salem March 11 with a good turnout in support. Rep. Paul Holvey is one of the sponsors of HB 3510, called the Affordable Health Care for All Oregon Act. Oregon is joining Vermont, Pennsylvania, California and 17 other states in promoting single-payer legislation as an alternative to the national legislation.U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden gets credit for language in Obamacare that allows states to pursue their own proposals that would meet the same goals of the federal legislation.
Why now when the economy is in the tank? The insurance industry takes a big bite out of the health care pie, and the federal legislation doesnt go nearly far enough in cutting costs. Proponents of the Oregon bill tell us we cant afford to wait. By their projections, state and local governments in Oregon would save $900 million a year under single-payer, businesses would see their health care benefit costs reduced by 16 percent; doctors costs to collect fees would decrease 30 percent; and families on average would save $340 annually. Lets do it. And Oregon can once again serve as an example for the nation.
« Were off to war again, this time in defense of Libyans under attack by Gadhafi and his loyalists. Exercising U.S. military force always has unintended consequences. Its preferable to have these tough decisions being made by Barack Obama, the U.N. Security Council and the Arab League, rather than Dick Cheney, but what about the other Arab nations where newly informed and inspired citizens are rising up against their autocratic rulers who have been supported militarily by the U.S. for decades? Do we pick sides and inject ourselves into every budding civil war? Our Middle East foreign policy has been based on U.S. self-interest and ignorance rather than diplomacy in search of peace and justice. Obama will have a hard time turning around our bloody U.S. legacy. The civil war in Iraq is still raging with 129 civilian deaths just last week.
SLANT includes short opinion pieces, observations and rumor-chasing notes compiled by the EW staff. Heard any good rumors lately? Contact Ted Taylor at 484-0519, editor at eugeneweekly dot com